Advocates recruit hotline volunteers

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Volunteering for Advocates-Crisis Support Services six years ago, Karen Aragon was paged to a domestic violence call her first night.

"It's not for everybody," said Aragon, now volunteer and youth services coordinator for the non-profit Advocates.

The group is looking for more volunteers to bolster its current staff of six people who take telephone calls from domestic violence victims or their relatives, and, in some cases, respond to the scene of disturbances.

"We're looking for as many as we can get," said Pat Tessmer, Advocates' executive director.

A 40-hour training course for volunteers begins Tuesday. Training will offer discussion on domestic violence, related legal issues, intervention techniques and victims' safety.

Aside from taking calls, volunteers at some point would likely be asked to respond to calls.

"We find out pretty quickly whether or not this will work for them," Tessmer said.

On-call volunteers are notified by pagers, which are activated when messages are left on the group's hotline. Advocates says it's flexible with volunteers.

"People can determine their own schedules ... people have kids and work," Tessmer said.

She said trainees must be at least 18, able to drive and not be involved in an abusive relationship.

"If someone needs to focus on their issues, that's where their focus needs to be, not on others," Tessmer said.

"There's a misconception that you have to be a formerly battered person to work on a crisis line but people do it for different reasons."

Paul Shockley can be reached at 824-7031 or at pshockley@craigdailypress.com.

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